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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1741

Mr HICKS(10.34) —I am sure that all members of this House know of the reputation of Broken Hill as a great pioneering city and also as a city that has set the traditions not only for the trade union movement but also for the industrial growth of Australia. Broken Hill at the moment is facing quite a few problems. The mining field is 100 years old, so there are problems, particularly in the economic area, facing the people of Broken Hill. I am concerned tonight about the pioneers of Broken Hill. I would like to pay tribute to the Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association and its executive on the work that they do in trying to care for those elderly citizens of Broken Hill.

I have received correspondence from that Association in relation to some of the facilities that Broken Hill does not have. We have to keep in mind that Broken Hill, because of the care and attention that the elderly get there, has a higher number per capita of elderly citizens. Being an isolated location, people prefer to stay in the place where they were born, lived or worked. They want to remain there for the rest of their days.

Some of the facilities in Broken Hill for the elderly include the hospital, Aruma Lodge, which is a hostel for the elderly, the Southern Cross Homes Inc. village, which contains units for the elderly, the Broken Hill Centenary Nursing Home and the Home of Compassion Nursing Home. Even with all of these facilities there are just not enough places for the elderly in Broken Hill. One thing that is vital and which is missing is a respite care accommodation centre for those who have to leave hospital, perhaps not as well as they might be, and return to their homes where they have to try to care for themselves under conditions which are at least very difficult. The Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association spokesman, Mr Byers, has written to me and asked me to approach the Government to see whether there is any way that one of these respite care accommodation centres can be provided for those people who have to leave hospital before they might be 100 per cent fit to try to get them on to their feet and over that period of convalescence.

Another problem for the elderly and infirm in Broken Hill is that, as a city, it is fairly widespread. These different facilities I am talking about such as the hospital, Aruma Lodge and the other care centres for the elderly are spread out. The elderly really need some transport to get from one to the other. In days gone past Broken Hill was one of those few cities in Australia that had a steam tram service, but that is going back a long way. It has had a bus service for many years but with the economic problems facing Broken Hill that bus service is no longer as frequent as the elderly and infirm people wish it to be.

Mr Byers has also written to ask me if I could approach the Government to find out, firstly, whether there could be some investigation of just what bus services the elderly do need, when the peaks occur and where the elderly and infirm wish to go so that they can have a bus service that will cater to their needs and which will prevent them from having to stay at home all the time where they get very bored and find the quality of life not as it should be. In the House tonight I am asking the Federal Government for assistance, first of all to carry out an investigation of the needs of these elderly people and the infirm. I intend to write to the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett) to see whether something can be done. I believe that the pioneers of Broken Hill have made a great contribution not only to the city of Broken Hill but also to the nation.